PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:46 am

MamaPata wrote:
Maybe you’re trying to tell me to stop being so hell bent on perfecting all the little things, move on and get on with the stuff that matters?


That’s it! Sorry, I assumed that was clear. I think you’re definitely already C1, I am sure you can get to C2 no problem. Honestly I think doing the exam might be a great thing for you, both to see where you are and what your strengths are, and to help yourself let it go. It’s just an exam, you’re doing it for yourself.


Thanks MamaPata for taking the time to clarify. Yes, I think you are completely right. It’s just an exam, and it’s high-time I gave it a go.

MamaPata wrote:Nobody can know all of the words in a language - I had to look something up in English today. You’ve gotten to a great point with your French, you’ve made it part of your life, you’ve been able to translate for patients. That’s incredible.


Thanks again. Yeah, you’re right, I can’t know them all, and I think one of the main things that will help me in the lead up to the exam, is that I let go of those perfectionist tendencies and focus on exposure to LOTS of native French. Other than that, I really MUST focus on the exam preparation stuff AND do considerably more exchanges. This means, that as much as I’m finding Anki useful lately, I think I must let it go again, because I’m finding that I’m entering SO MANY WORDS/EXPRESSIONS into my decks, that I think I’m defeating the purpose - that is, lots of exposure! I’ve done much in the way of focused intensive study, and now although I must do some, I’ve got to be mindful of my tendencies to overdo it to the point my advancement comes to a standstill. Instead of looking for clarify through intricacies in the detail, I ought to be letting go and looking for clarity via the feel of the language, which requires more native content exposure (extensive reading, extensive watching, exchanges).

MamaPata wrote:But you keep setting yourself plans in which you do 3 hours of French study a day even though you have a job, a family, and a life. It just seems to me that you might feel a lot better and stick to a plan better if you lowered your expectations and just did the things you think are useful for maybe 45mins. That’s still loads! And then anything you do above that would be for the pleasure of it. Life is short, you should enjoy yourself.


I agree life’s too short, but I do actually enjoy the study (most of the time, that is). I will continue to do lots of study, especially in the lead up to the exam, but I’ll try to come back to your words and remind myself of your wisdom - that is that it doesn’t need to be painful, nor all-consuming. Thank you ;)

MamaPata wrote:If you want to learn Russian, fantastic! As a Russian learner, I think you should definitely do it and come chat in the Russian study group! But mostly I think you should only do it if you will enjoy it. If you will start it and then feel bad that you’re not perfect, why put yourself through that?


Learning Russian is actually a low priority for me. And since we’re on the topic (of wanderlust), my current order of languages to be learned in order of priority goes something like this:
French
Dutch
Spanish
German
Norwegian
Luxembourgish
Russian
Arabic
... so as you can see, the whole fanciful notion of learning Russian, is well at this point, just fantasy, and given my learning styles up to this point, it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever actually learn Russian if the language wish list remains in this order and my techniques don’t change/and or I don’t take away a lot from this whole French over half-decade marathon.

And since the French thing is taking so long, well this is what gives me the impetus from time to time to ‘complete’ the mission, that is, reach (and pass) a C2 exam. For perhaps only then I’ll truly be able to reflect on the distance I’ve covered and what I can definitely do to make the path more efficient for subsequent languages.

The whole not being perfect thing. I don’t understand how not to be this way. For me, learning means you put in the effort to learn the words, grammar and phrases you don’t understand along the way, and that seems pretty standard/normal for me in terms of language learning. Perhaps where I need to let go, is that I should learn to do so with extensive hours and learn to transition the ratio of intensive to extensive study perhaps sooner on my language learning journey, and not only perhaps sooner, but ensure the ratio is always moving towards predominantly extensive learning at some point (or at least more balanced that what it has been).

I guess this is all learning, i’m still learning how to learn from myself and others and I value your input highly, MamaPata. It’s left me feeling quite positive today about my French. Thank you, and I hope you’re going well yourself with your studies and enjoying Russian in particular!
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby StringerBell » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:11 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:This means, that as much as I’m finding Anki useful lately, I think I must let it go again, because I’m finding that I’m entering SO MANY WORDS/EXPRESSIONS into my decks, that I think I’m defeating the purpose - that is, lots of exposure!


I have some unofficial N=1 results related to Anki that I thought I'd share. Your post about inputting a lot into Anki at the expense of more exposure made me think of it.

About 8-10 months ago I was doing an intensive 500 article challenge. Every time I came across a new verb, vocabulary word, or expression, I added it to a master list, along with sample sentences containing the word. Once I'd finished the challenge, I'd amassed a huge list - I can't even tell you how many pages; it was overwhelming. I've never been a fan of Anki, but I figured it made sense to put those words/phrases into Anki since they weren't very high frequency so I figured intentionally studying them with flashcards would be the only way to learn them.

I couldn't input everything, I basically entered things randomly. When I did this, I put a star next to the word as a reminder that I had already added it to Anki. I think I did maybe 1-2 months of reviews before I abandoned Anki. Just a few days ago, I decided to revisit that master list. I figured I wouldn't know anything from it, at best maybe I'd remember the things that I'd studied with Anki.

Result: After not looking at that master list in a really long time, I discovered something interesting. I didn't remember a single one of the words I'd studied in Anki UNLESS I'd come across that word in other sources. Just studying it with Anki alone wasn't enough for me to remember it. However, there were actually a lot of words that I'd never put into Anki that I did know; those were words that I'd come across in other native materials (books, TV) or I'd decided it was a really useful word/phrase and started using it, myself, occasionally. So it seems that Anki played a 0% role in my long term memory and what was most important was seeing those words elsewhere (even only once or twice) or taking the time to use that new word myself. In addition to trying to use some words during conversations, a few words on the list that I remembered were ones that I'd used to generate a bunch of sentences on my own (not just generic sentences, but ones that in some way related to my life or something I'd want to say). Interacting more intimately with these words was enough to anchor them in my memory.

I'm not trying to trash talk Anki; I think it has a place, and I think it can be really used efficiently. But realizing that studying with Anki alone just isn't enough (for me) has made me rethink whether it's worth my time or not. I still have an endless number of words to learn, so it would be nice to think that I could just to dump them into Anki, do a few reviews, problem solved. As tempted am I am by this solution, I can now see firsthand that Anki alone just isn't a good use of my time. Sure, writing a page of sentences takes much longer initially than flipping through an Anki card, but I think that time invested upfront pays off later on.

My results may or may not be true for you - I'm not trying to tell you to ditch Anki. But if you're feeling overwhelmed by the volume of what you're inputting, another option is to put these words on a list for future use and start working with just a few of them per day - incorporate them into something you're saying, write some sentences, Look up the history of the word, whatever. When I was writing journal entries in Italian, I'd pull out 4-5 new words, write them at the top of my page, and then try to use them in my writing.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:18 pm

StringerBell wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:This means, that as much as I’m finding Anki useful lately, I think I must let it go again, because I’m finding that I’m entering SO MANY WORDS/EXPRESSIONS into my decks, that I think I’m defeating the purpose - that is, lots of exposure!


I have some unofficial N=1 results related to Anki that I thought I'd share...


Thank you for sharing StringerBell. This is very relevant to my current situation. Unlike last time I ditched SRS programs, this time I am not sick of it, and I’m finding them quite fun in short bursts, and seemingly very useful. However I keep coming back to ‘efficiency’ and i’m doubting it’s efficiency. Even if it does work better for me than what you have explained you found yourself, StringerBell, I’m still wondering if it’s simply not effecient enough.

To speed up cards I would have to cut detail or do single word/expression cards. I don’t like this as I think it takes away from the experience and definitely renders the cards less useful, as opposed to full sentence cards with cloze deletion type-written responses. But still, speeding them up, just means I enter more cards, and many cards are being entered during other activities such as intensive reading. The end result is, during an intensive reading session I spend 45 minutes entering perhaps 20 words/phrases on a good day because I add a bit of detail, and I don’t actually read much.

Whereas without Anki, these articles already have word lists, I could wizz through the word lists testing my memory covering up the FR or the EN and testing my memory translating, and read the article and probably get through two or three times as much content. Since I own these magazines there’s no law against me never returning to review. So Anki seems too inefficient even if I am already familiar with these words/phrases from the articles (they are not devoid of context).

But, due to the way I study, it’s a bit of a dilemma for me, since even when I extensively read, I’m a slow reader, and I do not do it often enough because I prefer other activities or simply don’t have the time and must divide my time up with other language learning activities as well, so I do not come across the semi-rare words frequently enough. So for enough exposure to semi-rare words, I’d need to perhaps read a few hours every day, which leaves no time for other activities, which I either enjoy or must do for exam prep for example or to increase listening ability.

So this I feel leaves two options
1. Use Anki, but sparingly for entering words.
2. Do more extensive activities.

I think 2 is a better option for me, but I will still struggle to put it into practice.

It makes me ponder something though. How effective is it to learn words from say frequency dictionaries, illustrated dictionaries and other such resources in which the words are presented in isolation in either a thematic way, or annotated/illustrated format.

It also makes me ponder the fact that my English vocabulary size is by no means massive. I think it’s either average or below average a little, not that I run around looking stupid all the time, it’s just my honest self assessment. And I blame it on mostly having not read enough when I was younger. So perhaps there again is my answer - read more. But where to find the time.

I think I will dump Anki, for now, but I have my doubts about getting enough extensive activities in to acquire the vocabulary. But I want to attempt not to be concerned about it, as I should still acquire a good amount from my intensive reading with all the words lists, and I actually enjoy this. This is in fact a combination of ‘thematic’ word lists AND context. Something keeps telling me to do more of it - I need to listen to that inner voice and do so, without Anki for a while.
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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:09 am

MamaPata wrote:You’ve gotten to a great point with your French, you’ve made it part of your life, you’ve been able to translate for patients. That’s incredible.


And speaking of which...

Interesting situation last night at the hospital. A patient I was caring for of African origin turned out to have a poor grasp of English. When I found it the patient was from a west African nation in which French is spoken by many, I asked him/her if he/she spoke French. The reply was yes, and confirmation was made that French was preferential to English in my communications with him/her. Turns out the patient was originally from another, African nation in which French was also used as well. French was not the patient's primary language, but it was much preferred over English. So that was nice, to be able to use French again with another patient and translate again between the doctor and the patient.

The most difficult part was that the patient was very softly spoken, and I had to strain even when very close to him/her to make sense of what I was hearing to any extent. I quickly offered some comical relief stating I was rather deaf when requesting him/her raise the volume somewhat. If he/she was speaking English this would've been the same. Confusion arose a couple of times stemming from misunderstandings of how the medical system here works (the patient was a recent arrival from overseas) and only one situation in which I actually interpreted 'Je peux' as 'Je paie/paye'. Several attempts to ask him/her to repeat the phrase still left me confused, as this was right at the same point where misunderstandings over the medical system were thrown into the mix. Anyway, it was a bit of fun, but not at much as my last encounter due to the straining to hear, but it was also nice to be able to help via my linguistic knowledge.

There was an unknown word, which turns out I knew but the light-bulb didn't switch on immediately. Another word I used incorrectly but it didn't prevent comprehension nor did it prevent me learning (from the patient) which was the preferable term.

It raised the sentiment for more need for conversational practise. Not because I was rubbish, but just because I noticed the effect of reinforcement via real-life use of the language. It's one thing to study seventy hundred trillion grammar books and watch 20,000 films, but another thing to actually converse. Of course, as mentioned, I knew this, but it did serve as a good reminder.
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby rdearman » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:56 pm

Language Exchanges...
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: 306 / 75000 Output Challenge 2019 (普通话写作):

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:21 pm

rdearman wrote:Language Exchanges...


Yes, you’ve crossed my mind several times, rdearman, while I was contemplating this topic. If you wouldn’t mind, which sites, apps, services do you recommend? (a link to a post of yours is fine if you’ve already detailed this).

I’ve used italki for tutors in the past, but although I will use them again, I don’t want to use them too frequently nor exclusively due to it being a little pricey for some of the better ones. I’m happy to help with English (i.e. exchanges).
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby rdearman » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:35 pm

I have found a lot of partners on these websites, and they are normally serious learners:

https://www.conversationexchange.com/
https://www.language-exchanges.org/

At the gathering I attended a talk by one of the creators of the tandem app. Many people I spoke to gave it good reviews, although I didn't use it myself to organize language exchanges.

https://www.tandem.net/
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: 6 / 100 100 Italian paperbacks:
: 306 / 75000 Output Challenge 2019 (普通话写作):

Lollygagging Podcast available on iTunes

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:39 pm

rdearman wrote:I have found a lot of partners on these websites, and they are normally serious learners:

https://www.conversationexchange.com/
https://www.language-exchanges.org/

At the gathering I attended a talk by one of the creators of the tandem app. Many people I spoke to gave it good reviews, although I didn't use it myself to organize language exchanges.

https://www.tandem.net/


Thanks rdearman,

I shall utilise this info dès que le Tour de France se terminera.

Why so many leaves? I mean, why? I mean it’s not as if chickens (aka hens, aka chooks, aka sharks) can see, is it now? How many eyes do you have when you’re awake?
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby Elsa Maria » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:25 am

PM, I am sure that your patient was very appreciative of your French translation. Hospitals can be scary when you are the patient, and it surely helps the patient to be able to use a stronger language.
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Re: PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:46 am

Future language learning ponderings.

I am hoping to sit the C1 or C2 exam in November, and although preparation has been so far poor compared to where I hoped I’d be at this point, in a couple of weeks post watching Le Tour de France in French, I’m planning to change things dramatically. However my track record with plans has not been one to write home about. I just need to summon the forces, get into good habits and push myself with the areas of French that matter most when considering such exams or I simply will go in way under-prepared on C-level exam formats.

I find myself dreaming of other languages I might take on post exam, however I’m also planning on completing further studies in nursing to boost my career prospects both here in AU and in the EU (I was informed that further studies will increase my chances of getting work in Belgium (BE) in a hospital as opposed to being only granted access to aged care positions). So whether I can really take on much in the way of language study next year is uncertain. Additionally, were I to pass C2, I’d feel much more comfortable with scaling back my French study, A pass in C1, would see a scale back but to a lesser extent.

Here are the languages I’m seriously considering learning beginning post French exam.

French
As stated, the degree to which I will study French intensively will depend on exam results and at which level I pass/fail.

Dutch
A serious contender for job prospects in BE, a language I’m very keen to learn and teach the children, considering my family’s Dutch heritage, and perhaps the fastest language I can learn, given previous history.

Spanish
No job prospects, but a language like Dutch I’m currently drawn to out of interest of having it become part of the family language learning sphere. Also, imagining my kids grown up with a passive knowledge of or some degree of basic fluency in Spanish, I feel could widen their horizons (who am I to know whether some day Nth or Sth America might be a place they are drawn to).

German
Will open potential employment doors in Luxembourg, Switzerland and to some limited degree, BE as well. But not as important as Dutch in the immediate future as I still need to go to BE first.

Norwegian
My daughter is interested in this language, we have friends in NO, nursing conditions and pay are quite good there, but completing the transitional courses is expensive. I would like to learn it/teach it to the kids and aim for a job in NO some time but it would be a long-shot. I’d have to go to BE first though.

Luxembourgish
Not of immediate concern, but I do like the idea of nursing in LU given the highest rates of pay in the world and multilingual existence one would experience in LU. Unless I was ‘tipped off’ that learning DE and LU would guarantee a well paying job in LU, I’m not likely to undertake this language without first getting a job in LU. Furthermore, it’s too difficult to aim for LU before going to BE first.

Would it be reasonable to take on several languages at once? For example, if I had three hours a day I could divide it like this:
30 min French
30 min Spanish
1 hour Dutch
1 hour Norwegian OR German

Care to share your opinion? Worth a mention is that in theory I might have 3 hours a day for the next two years (2020/21) but if we relocate to EU in 2022, I may no longer be able to spare 3 hours/day. Also, as mentioned, further studies next year and the year after may seriously reduce my language learning time.
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